As Spring awakens our yards, we enjoy the various sights and sounds of the season. The rising temperatures bring blooming dogwoods, crocus, daffodil and azalea along with the return of our warm season birds. Our world transforms from winter brown to summer green. Along with this lush beauty comes an invader, a pest that has been declared as the deadliest animal – the mosquito.
For many, the buzzing outdoors is a sure sign of trouble – mosquito season has arrived. A mosquito lands on your arm and bites you. It’s the female that seeks blood from her host by detecting carbon dioxide and octenol that are produced in breath and sweat. She needs the protein from blood to develop her eggs. And as you know, she will not be deterred in her quest. You can swat, wave, light candles and she’ll still find a way to get you.
For some, a mosquito bite is more than a few days of itching. It can cause an allergic reaction or, they may have received an illness transmitted from the bite.
According to the NC Department of Health & Human Services, the three most common mosquito-borne diseases that cause human illness in our state are arboviruses. Specifically, they are –
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is also a bird disease. It’s associated with mosquitoes that live in freshwater swamps and bite birds. EEE is most likely to occur in Coastal and Eastern Piedmont areas during the late summer and early fall. In our state, the cases are most severe in children and people over 50. From 2003 to 2012, 6 cases were reported from five counties.
La Crosse Encephalitis (LAC) is the most frequently reported illness in our state. LAC appears to be maintained in small mammals such as squirrels and is transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in tree holes or small containers that hold water. LAC is most likely to occur in the mountain counties of Buncombe, Transylvania and Henderson, primarily in children under the age of 14. From 2003 to 2012, 187 cases were reported from 27 counties.
West Nile Virus (WNV) arrived in 1999 and has spread across the country. Carried by birds, the disease is spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites a person or an animal such as a horse. WNV is most likely to occur in the Piedmont counties, although it can occur anywhere in the state. WNV cases are seen most frequently in people over 40 years old (75% of cases from 2003-2012). From 2003 to 2012, 43 cases were reported from 26 counties.
Illness usually begins with sudden onset headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. The illness may become more serious and involve disorientation, seizures or coma, significant brain damage or even death. There is no specific cure for arboviral illnesses; therapy is limited to treating the symptoms.
So what can we do about these deadly creatures?
Eliminate possible breeding sites.
Mosquitoes can breed in one-inch of standing water. So remove empty containers like buckets and toys that collect water. Clean out your gutters – another great place for water to stand if clogged with debris. If a pet dish or a birdbath must be left outdoors – be sure to change the water daily.
Remove a comfortable resting place.
Mosquitoes like to rest in tall grass and shrubs during the day. Keep your grass mowed and trim your shrubs.
What you can’t control are the neighbors.
If you are still bothered by these insects and you want to protect your friends & family from these deadly pests – call us at GrowinGreen and let our team of experts Stop the Bites! in your yard.